Caution With Protest Messages

Update: Special thanks to @GeorgeBaileyDog on Twitter, who brought a Los Angeles Times article to my attention.  Although some pink hats worn during yesterday’s demonstrations may have come from overseas factories, there was an effort to produce many of them in the United States.  A link to the article appears at the end of this post.

The right wing has a way of hijacking messages that are meant to be decent.  Until recently, a sincere person could say, “All lives matter” without acting as an apologist for police officers who shoot unarmed people.

Words are powerful, so they’re subject to manipulation.  That won’t change.  It isn’t always a bad thing, though.

While the word “pussy,” when used to describe something non-feline, is vulgar, women who take offense at Donald Trump’s use of the word have made it into something creative and positive.  Anyone who profits from the sale of pink yarn and knitted caps has done well, too.  While we can hope no sweatshops were involved in manufacturing any of those hats, we’d better face reality.  Most of us have owned sweatshop merchandise for years, whether we know it or not.

Pink caps were an effective solidarity symbol during yesterday’s protests, and anyone who is skeptical should look at the aerial photos.  It’s time to put them away, though.  Some of those caps probably were manufactured by women and young girls working under deadly conditions, and it’s likely most women who wore them yesterday aren’t at peace with that.

Sweatshop labor isn’t the only reason to ditch the pink hats.  They do look kind of silly, especially to men who find women silly in the first place.  We want our objections to Trump’s policies taken seriously, even if it’s impossible to get through the dense skulls of Trump and some other men who lack respect and empathy.  There are people who can be persuaded, if the approach is right.

Protesters who formed a human chain across the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday were asked to wear purple, as a statement against bullying.  There was a good reason for that, and I respect everyone concerned.

Purple clothing on large groups of people is still a good strategy for anti-bullying efforts, but don’t overdo it.  It’s for occasional demonstrations addressing bullying specifically.  Preserving the impact is vital, and organizers should be careful not to desensitize the public by allowing the color to become too familiar.

I missed yesterday’s San Francisco demonstrations.  My body is sensitive to cold, rainy weather, and I didn’t want to risk coming down with a virus that could escalate to pneumonia.  I plan to be at future protests, though, which are almost certain to happen.  The future, smaller (although still YUGE, to quote some jerk) protests will need everyone who cheered yesterday’s crowd from the sidelines.  It will be our turn to suffer claustrophobia and desperately look around for a clean place to pee.

On the topic of hijacking messages, here’s a quote no one should forget:


— Christopher Reeve, speaking at the 1996 Democratic Convention

One thought on “Caution With Protest Messages

  1. “They do look kind of silly, especially to men who find women silly in the first place.”

    fair point, but there are also men who find liberal women a lot sillier than conservative ones. pro-CHOICE personally, (as are most of my friends) but not all liberal women are. the right thinks im left, the left thinks im right– but i dont vote for liars. and i think hillary supporters are silly. if all you hillary voters had teamed up for jill stein instead, you wouldve won the popular AS WELL as the electoral vote– and youd have also beaten the extremely patriarchal 2-party system as well as broken the glass ceiling. its not a joke– its the honest truth.


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